Creating the Rooftop Garden of Your Dreams

There is currently a major trend that is taking place, not only nationally, but internationally, that is giving traditional landscaping a run for its money: rooftop gardens.

From office buildings to senior living facilities, hotels to apartment complexes, and schools to sports stadiums, rooftop gardens are “sprouting” everywhere, and they are making outdoor living the latest craze.

According to this Boston article, the Red Sox Fenway Farms feeds fans while providing numerous environmental benefits, including cleaner air. In Oakland, CA, Kaiser Roof Garden (featured here with other beautiful rooftops) is a car-park-meets-actual-park; complete with a lake, fountains, and bridges.

So if you’re considering turning your unused roof into a land of greenery, you’re not alone, but there are some things to keep in mind:

1. The primary purpose of your roof is to provide protection and keep moisture out of the building. Do not compromise the integrity of the roofing system when designing your green space.
2. Not all structures can accommodate the added load from the soil, plants, pavers and other overburden. Involve a structural specialist to determine whether or not the existing structure can accommodate the added load.
3. You will want your rooftop garden to last for many years, so give strong consideration to replacing your roof prior to installing a rooftop garden to ensure as many years as possible. Once the rooftop garden is installed, roof replacement will also require rooftop garden replacement.
4. Down the road, any roof repairs will require disturbing the new rooftop garden. Prior to installing the rooftop garden, install an Electric Field Vector Mapping system which allows your roof repair team to quickly and accurately locate a breach in the roofing system while keeping any disturbing of the rooftop garden to a minimum.

Before planning a rooftop garden, it is useful to note the difference between intensive and extensive roof gardens. Intensive gardens have greater depth and deeper soil, allowing for more variety, larger plants, and more features. As a result, they are more complex. These gardens have greater fertilizer and water needs, but can include many more features, including fountains, ponds, and more. As a general rule, intensive gardens have a planting medium of at least six inches.

Alternatively, extensive roofs are up to six inches deep, feature less plant diversity, are simpler to install, and are generally better suited for smaller spaces where minimal maintenance is preferred. Either way, the result is an attractive use of previously unused space, offering countless opportunities for enjoyment.

At Knickerbocker Roofing, we have extensive experience with installing rooftop gardens, supported by 125 years of roofing expertise. We install the new roof and all preparations (including EFVM, root barriers, drainage mats, insulation, membranes, etc.), and can install the garden itself.

Whether you want an intensive or extensive roof garden, a 1,000-square-foot oasis or a 1,000,000-square-foot masterpiece, we can make any rooftop dream a reality.

To learn more about our extensive services, visit our website, or contact us anytime with questions.

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